Authorities in Mondolkiri province have arrested five men who were allegedly hired to transport two truckloads of illegally logged wood to a rubber plantation that has been linked to timber laundering.
Yin Chanthy, commander of the military’s 103 border platoon, said on Monday that the trucks were stopped on Sunday night on the road from the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary to the Unigreen plantation, and were seized along with first-grade wood. Officers found two logs of Koki timber in one truck and 25 sawn planks of Sokrom in the other.
“The five people told us they were working for the company,” he said. “The wood was being transported to Unigreen.”
The commander said the arrests were made on the orders of Mondolkiri Provincial Court prosecutor Long Hok Meng, who confirmed the order, but declined to comment on what he said was an ongoing investigation.
Khlauk Sophea, the police chief of Koh Nhek district, said the five men had confessed to being hired by Unigreen.
Mr. Sophea said he did not get any more information out of them before handing them over to the Forestry Administration.
The head of the administration’s local cantonment, Vong Sokserey, said he was holding the group, but declined to comment.
Chua Kwa Seng, the owner of Unigreen, a Singaporean company, could not be reached.
In February, Unigreen representative Lam Kimchean denied media reports that a recently formed government task force charged with rooting out illegal stocks of wood across eastern Cambodia had found illicit timber on the company’s property. He also denied reports that his company was in business with Try Pheap, a well-known timber baron widely accused of running one of the largest illegal timber rackets in the country.
Within a few months, however, the task force announced that it had seized nearly 240 cubic meters of timber found on Unigreen’s property.
No one has yet been charged over the timber, which has since been auctioned off by the government to another businessman.